The United States has imposed sanctions on senior officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC), including chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the court of “an illegal attempt to subjugate Americans to its jurisdiction.”
The Hague-based ICC is currently investigating whether US forces have committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
The U.S. has criticized the court since its inception and is one of a dozen states that have not signed up.
Bulkez Jarrah, a senior adviser to the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch, called the sanctions a “shameful new low for U.S. commitments to justice for the victims of the worst crimes.”
Mr Pompeo’s move was “a spectacular distortion of U.S. sanctions, designed to penalize rights abusers and kleptocrates, targeting those who commit war crimes,” she tweeted.
Formed by the UN treaty in 2002, the ICC investigates and brings to justice those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, intervening when national authorities cannot or will not take action.
- What is the International Criminal Court?
The treaty has been ratified by 123 countries, including the UK. But the U.S. – China, India and Russia have refused to join together Some African nations have accused the body of being inappropriately centered on Africans..
What are approvals?
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in JuneIs the U.S.C. Allows to block the assets of ICC employees and stop them from entering the country.
Addressing reporters on Wednesday, Mr Pompeo said that under the order, the head of the jurisdiction, fulfillment and co-operation department, M.S. Bensouda and Fakiso Mochochoko will be allowed.
Dismissing the ICC as a “completely broken and corrupt institution”, he said those who “continue to physically support those individuals are also at risk of sanctions”.
The U.S. State Department has also banned visas for ICC staff involved in “U.S. employee investigation efforts.”
When President Trump issued his executive order in June, the ICC condemned him as “more intimidating and harsh.”
“The attack on the ICC also represents an attack on the interests of victims of atrocities, many of whom represent the ultimate hope for justice.” Read his statement.
Who is Fetu Bensouda?
As her former justice minister in the Gambia, Ms. Bensouda was ideally placed to succeed Luis Moreno-Ocampo as the ICC’s chief prosecutor, as she has been his deputy during her tenure.
She had previously served as a senior legal adviser to a UN-backed tribunal that prosecuted alleged ringleaders in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
While she expanded the ICC investigation to look into the conflict elsewhere, which has now angered the U.S., Africa remained her main focus. All ICC trials so far have focused only on the people of Africa – and the military leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Thomas Lubanga, became the first person to be convicted of war crimes by the ICC in 2012.
But Ms Bensouda also suffered defeats, including acquitting former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gababo of war crimes charges in 2019 and dropping crimes against humanity charges against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2014.
What is the ICC investigating?
The ICC said earlier this year that the U.S. was involved in the Afghan conflict. And began investigating alleged war crimes committed by others.
According to ICC legal process, When sufficient evidence is collected by the plaintiff and the suspects are identified, the court may issue arrest warrants or summons to appear. From there, they will decide if there is enough evidence to go to trial.
At the time, Mr. Pompeo vowed to protect Americans from investigation, calling it “a truly breath-taking action by an unaccountable, political organization masquerading as a legal entity.”
The ICC’s 2016 report states that there is good reason to believe that the US military used torture. In secret detention facilities operated by the CIA.
- Afghanistan: A Long Road to Peace
- The Afghan War: A Short and Long Story
The trial of the Taliban, the Afghan government and US troops is expected to begin in May 2003.
Afghanistan is a member of the court but officials there have also protested against the investigation.
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